Conte and Ratcliff win Dem nods for Woodstock Town Board

Bennet Ratcliff and Deputy Supervisor Maria-Elena Conte trounced former Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Howard Harris in a three-way race for two Woodstock Town Board seats in yesterday’s Democratic Primary.

In unofficial results late Tuesday, Conte garnered 492 votes, Ratcliff received 473 votes and Harris received 148 votes.

Conte is co-founder of the Woodstock Women’s March. Ratcliff is finishing a stint on the Onteora Board of Education and is chair of the Woodstock Democratic Committee.

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“It’s a melting pot and we really have to come together and listen to one another,” Conte said at a gathering after receiving the results. “And it’s a learning experience as well as what I bring to the table.”

Ratcliff pledged to work toward making Woodstock an affordable community for all.

“I decided if artists and musicians and painters and carpenters and jewelers… people who have devoted their life to their passion can’t live here anymore, then we can do something to help them live here,” he said. “And I started to tell people that and somebody said you’re running on that. Do you think you can do that? And I said, I think we can do that. And it is gonna be a we.”

Maria-Elena Conte is the deputy supervisor, a position that is non-voting but participates in Town Board discussions, sits on committees and conducts town business. The deputy supervisor also chairs meetings in the supervisor’s absence. It is considered a stepping stone for those who aspire to run for elected office. Councilman Reggie Earls held the position before he was first appointed, then elected to the Town Board.

Ratcliff, a former political consultant, moved to Woodstock in 2014. He is currently finishing a stint on the Onteora School Bolard.

Supervisor Bill McKenna is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for another term. Scott Bonestell, who was recently appointed interim highway superintendent, is running unopposed for his first elected term.

The Republicans hold a caucus at a later date instead of a primary, but have had to skip it in recent years due to a lack of candidates.